This is a story that goes way beyond formats.
Because instead of Lady Gaga, Eminem, or Katy Perry holding this trophy, Adele now holds the prize for the highest-selling digital album in the world. According to Nielsen Soundscan, which oddly reports US-specific digital albums, Adele has now shifted 1.017 million digital copies of 21, which beats the second-ranked tally of 1.005 million for Eminem’s Recovery.
Meanwhile, Adele remains a serious chart over-achiever. Instead of a Gaga-style first-week explosion followed by a fizzle, Adele’s flame is burning brightly – week after week after week. Sometimes at number one, almost always in the top five.
But pray tell me, what does this all mean in the broader sales context? The development was first reported by Steve Jones of USA Today, who like many is wrestling with some unexpected first-half sales data. Digital albums remain a growth category, and part of the reason why broader US-based albums ticked upward by a percent during the first half. But instead of a format Renaissance, this is probably better viewed in the context of eroding CDs. Unfortunately, the album heyday is probably behind us, in any format.